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Changes need to be made to housing and planning policies in the UK to ensure enough new homes are being built, according to a property market review. The Lyons Housing Review, commissioned by the Labour party, identifies the changes which need to be made to increase the number of new homes to 200,000 a year. It says there must be new powers for local communities to build homes in places people want to live, that councils must produce a home building plan and allocate sufficient land for development and first time buyers should get priority access to new homes. The review says local communities should have the power to build the homes in places people want to live. Councils will be able to designate ‘housing growth areas’ and will have powers to assemble land and give certainty that building will take place. They will also ensure on larger developments the planning gain that results will in part be used to invest in the schools, roads, green spaces and GP surgeries that make developments possible. It also says councils should be compelled to produce a home building plan and allocate sufficient land for development. Labour says if it wins the general election next year it will make it mandatory for local authorities to produce a local plan to meet the housing needs of the community. If they do not allocate sufficient land or present a plan, the planning inspectorate will have powers to step-in to ensure the housing need is not ignored. The third main recommendation is that first time buyers from an area should get priority access to new homes. Councils would be given the power to reserve a proportion of homes built in ‘housing growth areas’ for first time buyers from the area for a period of two months. In addition, local authorities will be able to restrict the sale of homes in these areas so they cannot be sold for buy to let or buy to leave empty properties. The changes identified have been widely welcomed. According to Susan Emmett, residential research director of Savills the recommendations should help boost housing numbers regardless of who is in government next year. ‘The report clearly recognises the need for a long term, more strategic approach to planning for homes, integrating housing with infrastructure and increasing the number of players operating in the market,’ she said. ‘While we expect that large house builders will continue to provide the bulk of new homes, Lyons’ recommendations for supporting smaller builders and helping Local Authorities to build more is crucial if we are to increase overall housing numbers,’ she explained. ‘We also welcome the report’s recognition that we need to be delivering homes across all tenures including homes for rent. We expect to see the number of people renting continue to grow and supporting institutional investors to build to rent is essential to provide the good quality homes needed,’ she added. The British… Continue reading →
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